Why Open Access?

Graphic Possibilities

Michigan State University Department of English


Graphic Possibilities is a research workshop in the Department of English at Michigan State University. This research workshop engages with comics through two interrelated branches, critical inquiry and engaged pedagogy, to bring together faculty and graduate students with current and burgeoning interests in comic studies. From its founding, graphic Possibilities has engaged with open access (OA) principles. The commitment to OA is not accidental. We center this concern as part of a public humanities-oriented approach that affirms the mission of a land grant university.


The GPRW projects and programming align with open-access principles. Our approach engages with pedagogy and practice linked to comics. We seek to share ongoing research and inform the public about the intersections between comic studies and pop culture debates.


Michigan State University is home to the world’s largest publicly accessible collection of comic books. The GPRW is deeply shaped by the idea that comics serve as an archive of our collective experience. Our work enhances awareness of the Michigan State Library Comic Art Collection and promotes access to scholarly dialogue linked to it.


Our support of the Comic as Data North America (CaDNA) project allows us to use digital humanities methodology to think about comic production, communities of practice, and questions of representation in the medium.


Our efforts in support of open access include open educational resources (OER), podcasting, and wiki data projects. These initiatives leverage the open-access environment to create opportunities for collaboration and learning that support students and bolster scholarly communications.


Humanities Commons (HC) offers us an essential platform for our work. By building our website in the commons, we have a stable platform to share outcomes and facilitate the circulation of research findings through the CORE repository.


The challenge for open-access practitioners is that we must always highlight how this work has a cumulative impact. This path offers the possibility of robust engagement metrics, increases the visibility of research, and generates opportunities for partnerships. Building a community of sharable knowledge creates opportunities for success.

Dr. Julian C. Chambliss is a professor of English and Val Berryman Curator of History at the MSU Museum at Michigan State University (MSU). He is the faculty lead for the Department of English Graphic Possibilities Research Workshop (GPRW). He can be found on Twitter at @JulianChambliss